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Freight Market Update: July 30, 2023

Aerial top down view of a large container cargo ship in motion over open ocean with copy space

Ocean freight market update 

China–North America

  • Rate changes: Ocean freight spot rates trended up on both the China to US west coast and China to US east coast lanes in the last two weeks. The east coast saw a greater percentage climb, possibly a result of loading limitations on some service lanes in the region. However, shippers and carriers are far from certain whether spot rates will continue to rise through the peak season.    
  • Market changes: Trans-Pacific carriers finally appear successful in pushing up spot rates (to above contract rates) after implementing multiple GRIs, and thanks to increasing imports from Asia in the past few months. Reports of vessels fully loaded, and some shipments being rolled to later sailings seem to suggest a peak season demand increase. However, with demand improved, shipping lines are still focusing on tightening service capacity, according to logistics sources. This may be in anticipation of new capacity entering the trans-Pacific lanes in the coming months, which will put downward pressure on rates. Overall, there is a growing optimism for further rate increase in the short term with the current, strong utilization. 


  • Rate changes: Rates on China to North European lanes stayed flat, but those to Mediterranean ports decreased in the past two weeks. Some carriers operating the lanes have already announced GRIs for August 1 aiming at pushing rates up.
  • Market changes: Volumes in these lanes have generally been lagging, especially when compared to trans-Pacific, and new capacities are also expected to enter the market. Carriers are more engaged in blank sailing and slow steaming to retain rate levels, and seem ready to do that again. 

Air freight/Express market update

China–US and Europe

  • Rate changes: Air freight volumes and rates have been dropping again globally, with most volume increases recorded coming out of Asia Pacific to North America, contributing to more stable rates from Chinese airports in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, traffic between China and Europe in both directions has dropped slightly. 
  • Market changes: E-commerce volumes have been a main force supporting air freight demand. They are expected to stay steady in the coming months, while an easing of high inventory levels as well as new product launches are likely to add volumes and may act as stimuli for the air market.

Disclaimer: All information and views in this post are provided for reference purposes only and do not constitute any investment or purchase advice. The information quoted in this report is from public market documents and may be subject to change. Alibaba.com makes no warranties or guarantees for the accuracy or integrity of the information above.

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